The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

A VIEW TO A KILL (1985) ***

A lot of people shit on A View to a Kill, but I still like it. I just wish Roger Moore had made it in between Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only. With a younger, sprier Moore in the lead, A View to a Kill could’ve been one of his best. Sadly, Moore was in his mid-50’s when he made this. Moore is just fine whenever he’s boning broads or making quips (which is quite often), but when it comes to the action sequences, his stuntmen are painfully obvious. Just take a look at the scene where he’s skiing against a rear projection screen. It’s pretty bad.

I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad if they pulled a Never Say Never Again and actually acknowledged Bond’s advanced age. It might’ve actually worked. But I think Moore’s pride probably prevented the filmmakers from doing so. Considering that Moore really excels at playing the unflappable side of Bond, maybe it was still a good idea to keep 007 the indestructible superhero he’s meant to be.

Anyway, the obvious stuntmen are probably my biggest gripe with the movie; other than that, it’s a solid entry through and through.

The thing that really makes A View to a Kill is the inspired choice of villains. Christopher Walken is perfectly cast as the megalomaniacal Max Zorin and Grace Jones makes for a formidable and memorable May Day. There’s a bit of exposition about Zorin and May Day being products of Russian biological experiments, but one or two freakish shows of strength aside, that concept is never fleshed out as well as it could’ve been. It’s also fun seeing Dolph Lundgren in his screen debut in a brief appearance as a Russian bodyguard to General Gogol (Walter Gotell).

And it’s cool having The Avengers’ Patrick Macnee helping out Moore. They have great chemistry together. I especially like the scene where Macnee is undercover as his chauffeur as Moore’s constant jabs at Macnee’s expense are frequently hilarious.

In terms of action, A View to a Kill delivers. The scene where Bond commandeers a taxi, jumps on top of a tour bus, loses its top, AND gets cut in half and STILL drives is great. I also happen to think that the “Steeplechase of Death” scene is one of the most underrated sequences in Bond history. Of course, the climax on the Golden Gate Bridge is pretty nifty, but for me, the action sequences in the third act that lead up to the big finale pale in comparison.

But enough of my yacking; here’s the REAL Bond review:

The Pre-Opening Title Sequence. Most people generally hate this sequence due to the use of a cover version of “California Girls” playing over the soundtrack. That’s okay with me though because James Bond basically invented snowboarding in this sequence, so it can’t be all that bad. And come on people, the use of the song isn’t that goofy. ***

The Opening Title Sequence. This title sequence features lots of hot chicks wearing nothing but Day-Glo streamers while skiing. What else is there to say? Other than… ****

The Song. Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” is hands down, without a doubt the best Bond song of all time. ****

Bond. Frankly, Roger Moore was getting a bit long in the tooth by this point. I love Moore to death, but Octopussy really should’ve been his swan song. Despite the overuse of stunt doubles in the action sequences, Moore still plays his dialogue scenes with the same suavity you’d expect from His Pimpness. And speaking of which, he beds several ladies in this one, so it’s hard to really complain. *** ½

The Gadgets. There aren’t too many gadgets to be had in this outing. In the beginning, Bond drives a boat disguised as a glacier and Q (Desmond Llewelyn) uses a remote control robot equipped with a camera. That’s about it though. ** ½

Bond Girls. Sheena herself, Tanya Roberts is the Bond Girl in this one. She’s of the Hot, But Whiny variety of Bond ladies. That’s okay, because she’s more hot than she is whiny. And Fiona Fullerton is quite good as a sexy Russian agent who gets it on with Bond in a hot tub. ***

Action. There’s no shortage of action here. The Eifel Tower shootout, Bond’s carnage through the streets of Paris in a stolen taxi cab, the fight on Zorin’s assembly line, the Steeplechase of Death scene, the fire truck chase, and the Golden Gate Bridge finale are a lot of fun. Sadly, the obvious 007 stuntmen are all too apparent, so I do have to take some points off. *** ½

M. I like this briefing. M (Robert Brown) gets a chance to get out of the office for a bit as he goes to the racetrack so he can give Bond the lowdown on Zorin. Q is also heavily featured in this scene, which is an added bonus. But unfortunately, Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), like Bond was starting to show her age a bit too. ***

Villain. As Max Zorin, Christopher Walken is one of the best Bond villains. It’s just too bad his big scheme is so derivative of Goldfinger. Still, he brings enough nervous energy to the movie and in a career full of eccentric psychotic performances; this is one of his best. Some of Walken’s line deliveries are priceless in this. My favorites include: “I’m happiest… in the SADDLE!” and “More! More POWER!” (Of course, the way he says it, it sounds like “Mwaw! Mwaw Pah-wah!”) Picking out a favorite Walken moment in this is hard. While I love the scene where he kills a bunch of his own men for shits and giggles, I also think the scene where he realizes he’s a goner and lets out a great little laugh is pretty awesome too. ****

Villain’s Plot. It’s essentially the same as Goldfinger. Except… you know, with microchips instead of gold. I always say, if you’ve got to steal from somewhere, steal from the best. ***

Villain’s Lair. Zorin has a horse farm where the stables are ten times as big as the servant’s quarters. That’s pretty sweet. However, he spends a lot of time in his dopey blimp, so I have to factor that in as well. ***

Villain’s Henchmen. Grace Jones’ May Day is more memorable than she is effective. Her animalistic screen presence makes her stand out from the rest of the pack and she has some nice chemistry with Walken. However, her character isn’t really given much to do and her last minute change of heart doesn’t work quite as well as it should have. ***

Martinis. Bond drinks some wine, but no martinis. ***

Bond Movies Ripped Off. Goldfinger is the big inspiration here. Not only are the plots similar, Zorin’s big meeting with his potential investors mirrors Goldfinger closely. The flick also features a nod to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as Bond is chased by guys with machine guns while on skis. ***

A View to a Kill is the 18th best James Bond movie, putting it in between Casino Royale and The World is Not Enough.

AKA: The Beautiful Prey.

Tags: action, dolph lundgren, james bond series, sequel, v
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